Lexington, Ohio (3 August 2014) – Justin Wilson did not have the weekend he had been hoping for at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after several elements of the Honda Indy 200 did not play into his favor on Sunday. In a race that saw two caution periods and Wilson saving fuel throughout his green flag stints, the Briton was credited with 15th place. The result was disappointing for the Dale Coyne Racing driver who had been quick throughout the weekend posting lap times within the top-five during practice.
Wilson opened the race from eighth on the grid and when the Verizon IndyCar Series field funneled down through the first turn, several cars ahead of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda got together and blocked the track. Wilson managed to avoid the carnage taking to the grass but lost significant track position in the process as he fell to deep in the order.
“We started eighth and shuffled our way back to 15th,” said Wilson. “In Turn 1 there was a crash and I managed to avoid it all but the whole field passed me while I was avoiding it. I had to use a little grass. It was just the typical wrong place, wrong time again.”
When the race went back to green, Wilson found himself restarting 13th for what would be a longer green flag run. Dale Coyne Racing engineer Michael Cannon called Wilson to pit road under the green flag conditions on Lap 10 for scuffed Firestone Red tires and fuel in the hopes that fuel strategy would play into the team’s hands. Wilson re-entered the track 18th in line and made his way up to 12th before the second full course caution was displayed on Lap 37.
The timing of the yellow could not have been worse for the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing team as they had planned to pit right when the yellow came out. The team was forced to pit the car in a closed pit for a splash of fuel in order not to run out, which also saw the team not only have to return to the pit lane for a full service stop, but also restart at the rear of the pack – the penalty for entering a closed pit.
After pitting under the yellow for fuel, sticker red Firestone tires and a turn of the front wing, Wilson restarted from the rear of the field and made his way forward through another green flag run. Despite being held up by competitors which were later issued blocking penalties, Wilson made his way back up to 12th.
Wilson took to pit road for his final pit stop with 30 laps remaining in the race and took on fuel and Firestone red tires for the finish. He re-entered the track 16th in the order and went into fuel saving mode. Hoping for a yellow flag that never came, Wilson conserved fuel until the checkered flag and finished 15th.
“We tried to get off sequence so we could get some clear track and run fast and a couple of cars jumped out ahead of me,” offered Wilson. “We seemed to really struggle in traffic so after a couple of laps I ran off my tires and lost some pace again. It was just a tough day. We gambled on the last pit stop trying to pit early and pray for a yellow, which never came. It was very tough. We were going so slow trying to save fuel that the brakes were cold. There were a couple of times when I went to use the brakes and nearly crashed because there was nothing there – the brakes were just stone cold. It’s frustrating, I understand the strategy that we were trying to do, but it’s just a frustrating end to what had been a good weekend.”
Justin Wilson will be back in Verizon IndyCar Series race action in two weeks at the Milwaukee Mile which marks Round 16 of the 2014 Championship.